June 30, 2015
“Teen Cult’s self-titled debut is a nearly flawless art-rock triumph that unfurls as one comprehensive piece over 11 songs. The musicianship is impressive, demonstrated by both the technical character of the individual parts and the execution of the performances. The vocal melodies often invoke Jeff Buckley (hear Daniel Velazquez on “Lint” and Ian Sutherland on “Alligator Day”) even as the emotional tenor varies from the croon of a witching hour tramp (“Grady”) to the ravings of a horror movie madman (“Teenage Cult”). The drums (Brendan Smyth), guitars (Velazquez / Sutherland), and bass (Nnamdi Ogbonnaya) are tasteful, creative, and proficient. The sound as a whole is reminiscent of Cursive.
The music incorporates equal parts rock band and theatrical sensibility. This mixture produces a conceptual flexibility allowing the record to conjure a range of musical themes without losing its sense of continuity. “Last Days” bounces like a vaudevillian ballad. The humorously titled “Lint 3000” sounds unabashedly regal. Spanish jazz. Carnival music. Rag time. Math Rock. These themes mix, mingle, and transmute from song to song, verse to verse, and line to line.
The masterstroke of Teen Cult is in its arrangement. There is a flowing, cinematic tapestry created with a skilled use of dynamic change and transition. Melodies dip and climb around intricately developed rhythms until the whole thing bursts or washes into some other composition. The instrumental palate provides a wide degree of texture and atmosphere by tastefully weaving a guitar/bass/drums foundation with keyboards, horns, noise, percussion, found-sounds, bells, shuffles, claps, and various other bookshelf trinkets.
“Pictures of You Tying Knots in the Dark” is a great example of what makes Teen Cult such an achievement. It begins with a dreamy verse, trades with a thumping math-rock vamp, catches its breath in a jazzy unraveling, and exits with a cheering march that eventually devolves into a glitchy digital stutter.
Teen Cult is a serious accomplishment for those involved in its creation, and a welcomed indulgence for music lovers. If there is any sense of justice in the musical universe, this album will be as broadly and highly regarded as it ought to be.”
-Glenn Curran, Already Dead Tapes, 2015
Edition of 100